In today’s extremely America/Britain-centric music industry it can often be quite hard for bands outside of these territories to breakthrough. Whether it is a lack of local support or an unhandy language barrier,bands outside of the United States or Great Britain can often be overshadowed.A lot of these bands, believe it or not, come from the fantastic musicalmelting pot that is Australia. You might think that Australia is pretty much onpar with the US or Britain when it comes to popularity of acts, yet what no one tends to notice is the quantity of spectacular music making its way over from down under. A lot of fantastic Australian music goes either unnoticed or is just simply overrated, which is why we’ve decided to line up some of our favourite (perhaps more unknown) Australian artists for you, simply to demonstrate how much Australia really has to offer.
Okay, when we said “perhaps more unknown” we obviously didn’t mean that it would apply to the whole list. Tame Impala, fronted by the genius mastermind Kevin Parker, is currently Australia’s hottest musical export following 2012’s extremely successful Lonerism. Whereas Elephant demonstrated their rockier side, the likes of Mind Mischief and Feels Like We Only Go Backwards portrayed Tame Impala in a full-on psychedelic manner, laid back to the max. New single Let it Happen swayed more towards the electronic spectrum yet, at almost eight minutes long, it never once let go of the elements that made Tame Impala so unique. Musically, Tame Impala are what Australia is all about as a country – laid back, relaxed, happy yet spectacularly exciting. It’s safe to say that Kevin Parker and co. will be here to stay.
If you take the core elements of Tame Impala’s new single Let it Happen, make it slightly shorter and add an onstage DJ, then Jagwar Ma is what you get. The Jono Ma-fronted group mix summery indie rock flecked guitar music with electronic beats and dancefloor basslines ready to make every festival crowd go crazy at the click of a finger. Their music is perfect for a mid-afternoon Sunday BBQ at the height of summer, with songs like Let Her Go and The Throw having already proven their worth as tried-and-tested indie dancefloor anthems. They only have one album to their name, yet that’s been enough for them to sell out the likes of the legendary Paradiso and play a successful set on Glastonbury’s Park Stage. They may have played in the rain, but 10,000 people still showed up and showed the rest of Somerset how to have a real good time.
Tame Impala offshoots Pond have three times as many albums out as Impala themselves, something which is down to their extreme work ethic and non-stop working attitude. The band, fronted by former Impala bassist Nick Allbrook, recently released their best record yet in Man It Feels Like Space Again, a record which couldn’t sound more beautiful and drugged up than it already does. Its eight minute long title track sways back and forth by means of hypnotic synths and dreamy vocals, whereas the Beatles-esque Medicine Hat and glam stomp of Waiting Around for Grace are equally mesmerising. Known for their impressively energetic live shows, Pond are just one of many reasons why Australia is worth getting excited about musically.
HANDS LIKE HOUSES
You may think that Australia is all about dreamy psychedelia (and country, let’s face it), yet they also fare pretty well on the heavier front. One such example comes in the shape of Canberra’s experimental hardcore quintet Hands Like Houses. They may look extremely “non-heavy” donning flowery shirts and shorts, yet the music they make can really pack a punch. Standout track Introduced Species hits you face first like a kangaroo (don’t take me seriously – Ed) with its huge riff and “we don’t belong here” rally cry, something which is followed by a stadium-ready chorus and anthemic verses. In fact, the verses are so anthemic that they could almost be separate choruses themselves. They’re currently on the way up following a successful string of headline shows, so expect to hear more from the Trenton Woodley fronted troupe sooner or later.
Tonight Alive are flying the flag for pop-punk loud and proud, having already made a rather substantial impact across the globe. Frontwoman Jenna McDougall’s enviable onstage energy ensures chaotic crowds and huge sing-along moments from the moment she steps onstage to the moment she leaves it, with her bandmates equally entertaining onstage. They’ve still got a long way to go just yet, which means that achievements such as festival main stages and writing the title track for the new Spiderman movie are just small stepping stones in a massive pond largely undiscovered.
Singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett is undoubtedly one of the most thought provoking lyricists around today, with her witty lyrics and laid back to the max attitude attracting worldwide interest from the likes of Ellen Degeneres to major music publications. Debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is currently streaming online and promises to be one of the most exciting albums of 2015, pushing Barnett’s slacker rock further into the spotlight. If you haven’t heard breakthrough track Avant Gardener before then you’re clearly missing out. It features the fantastic line, “The paramedic thinks I’m clever ‘cus I play guitar, I think she’s clever ‘cus she stops people dying”, something which Barnett sings in such a deadpan, relaxed tone that we almost sit and think. Although we tend to just sit.
Raucous two-piece DZ Deathrays are to Australia what the likes of Blood Red Shoes and Drenge are to the UK, a duo who aren’t afraid to smash their instruments apart until they break, all in the name of creating fantastic music. Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley first emerged on the scene in 2011 with debut album Bloodstreams, following it up in 2014 with the more polished Black Rat. With elements of Andrew WK flowing through the blood that powers DZ Deathrays, it’ll come as no surprise to you that these two Australians love to party. Hard. Standout track Gina Works at Hearts doesn’t slow down for a second, encouraging you to keep partying all night long, because that’s how it should be.
Parkway Drive are undoubtedly Australia’s biggest hardcore metal export, having proven themselves to be one of the biggest metal names around today thanks to their ethereal mixture of pounding, brutal hardcore and anthemic vocals courtesy of frontman Winston McCall. They’re currently paving the way for a whole new range of Australian groups ready to follow in their footsteps, amongst them the likes of Northlane, The Amity Affliction and In Hearts Wake. Parkway Drive’s (arguably) best track, Wild Eyes, is all riffs and chugs before a chanted vocal enters the frame so powerfully that it begs for arenas full of people to sing along. There isn’t a bigger Australian metal band around today than Parkway Drive, and that’s for a pretty good reason.
The above list is obviously not representative of all the Australian music we wanted to talk about, with the likes of indie rockers Hockey Dad, alternative metallers Storm the Sky, popular sibling duo Angus & Julia Stone, hardcore trio Hellions and The Pierce Brothers also all worth checking out.
For a full playlist of fantastic Australian music, click here.